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This post is part of a Word Carnival. Every month, the members of our group write about some democratically agreed-upon topic. This month’s topic is about beating the motivation blues and learning to love your business again.
And I got news for you.
I am not motivated to write this post.
You see, I’m having a bit of a hate-hate relationship with my business right now. It wants me to work. Like, a lot.
It wants to throw a whole bunch of obstacles at me then sit back and watch what happens.
I just want to hang out with some brownies and watch the Biggest Loser from my couch.
If you’ve been in business for any length of time then you know how you hit these lows. Days when you don’t want to get out of bed. Days you don’t feel like doing that project or handling that client. Days you would rather be stuffing envelopes in a hot, windowless room than thinking for one more second about your marketing plan.
But we go on anyway, because that’s what we do.
Well, I’m not going to tell you. Because I don’t feel like writing a Pollyanna-ish post about finding your happy place and seeking inspiration in all the little joys in life…
What I want to tell you instead is how to hate your business with passion.
Come along with me and enjoy the ride, and at the end we’ll ask the more important question than simply how to get over a bad spell but why bother at all?
Embrace Your Hate
Maybe “hate” is too strong a word. But it sounds better than saying “embrace your feelings of annoyance and general dissatisfaction.”
And partly, that speaks to my point: stop watering it down.
Some days don’t you just hate answering that phone? Or writing that stupid, stupid blog post?
Don’t whitewash it. Stop trying to convince yourself to “look at the bright side”. Forget the silver linings and related clichés.
Just be crabby.
Now, I’m not telling you to wallow in it. There’s a difference between recognizing your frustration and rolling around in it with malicious glee.
Sit with your feeling for a while. Be Buddhist about it – recognize it, observe it, let it be what it is.
When you’re having a bad day and someone walks in with optimism and platitudes, don’t you sometimes find yourself being more ornery? Don’t you sometimes just want to tell happy-well-meaning person to drown in a bucket of their own cheer?
Sometimes the act of forcing yourself into positive-mode can make you just that much more resentful and unmotivated. Sometimes you just need to have a bad day.
And to all you optimistic well-meaning people out there, sometimes you just have to let us.
I don’t mean “nurture your inner child” or “find joy in simple things”.
I mean act like a temper-tantrum-throwing, haven’t-napped-in-four-days-and-want-a-lollipop three-year old.
My husband might beg to differ, as he’s the one who weathers the other end of my tantrums. But once in a while it feels great to throw something across the room. Not an heirloom or your $3,000 laptop, but a pencil, or the ridiculous book you’d read if only the author had anything remotely useful to say.
If throwing is not your style, eat a lollipop. Or an entire bag of them.
Take an entire day off from your crummy business and spend it watching back-to-back episodes of the Biggest Loser from the couch while you wear your fat sweats and eat a box of Oreos every time Jillian yells, “Get out of my gym!”
The point is that once in a while you need to stop trying to force yourself into the round hole of rational business behavior and step away. Let yourself be in your crummy place without the added pressure or compulsion to do anything about it.
Do Something You Hate
Come on, you’re already in a bad mood, so why not do that thing you really don’t want to do anyway?
After all, you don’t want to ruin your good mood (when it returns) with that aggravating thing.
Write the stupid blog post. Put together the stupid proposal. Clean out your junk drawer because you know it’s been bugging you for six months and you can never find a pen when you need it but you really hate cleaning out that drawer.
I know I said I wasn’t going to tread into “how to feel better” territory so consider this a bonus. You’ll get the annoying thing done and feel so much better about not having to do it anymore that you’ll cheer up even if you don’t want to.
When I’m not throwing pencils I’m a pretty mild-tempered person. I deal with people and their personality quirks pretty well. As project manager I talk to clients and deal with the usual barrage of “get it done now / get it done yesterday / I want it blue / never mind I hate blue” all day long.
Sometimes the irritations are minor, sometimes they aren’t. Normally I deal and go, deal and go.
But once in a while I have myself a little meltdown. You can ask my husband about that, too.
Once in a while all these things build up to a little molten pile of aggravation. That’s when, as my husband says, “Bitch Carol Lynn” comes out.
Bitch Carol Lynn doesn’t do “just one more revision.” Bitch Carol Lynn doesn’t say, “No problem,” when someone blows off a phone call for the third time. No, Bitch Carol Lynn starts laying down some smack.
That’s when off-the-reservation clients make their way quickly back to the barn. It’s when new rules get made and processes get revamped.
Because Bitch Carol Lynn is tired of the nonsense. And all those changes that were percolating for months, all those contingencies that never made it into contracts, they suddenly get done.
There’s nothing wrong with being mad. We often squash angry feelings with quick fixes to feel better or mental tricks to think positive. Maybe we’ve been pounded with advice to “count our blessings” so many times that we feel guilty for being mad.
I’m giving you permission right now to be mad.
No more Mister Nice Guy, folks. No more freebies and sympathy. No more bending the rules and accepting the faults.
When you’re mad is exactly the time you’re going to stop thinking about changing those lax business policies and actually do it. It’s when the holes in your process and your plans are going to glare right up at you and you’re going to stomp down hard.
When everything is smooth sailing there’s no incentive to change. “Good ideas” are just that on paper. But being mad about something gives you lots and lots of ammunition. Use it.
So What’s The Point?
Are we all temper-tantrumed out? The up side to a bad mood is that it’s exhausting. At some point you’ve got to be done.
We all have good times and bad times. How you move through them depends on a million things that are probably better suited to a self-help book.
But why you move through them makes a difference.
When things are looking pretty crummy, what do you tell yourself? Do you ask, “What’s the point?” Do you feel miserably trapped, beyond motivation and unable to muster the smallest conviction to do anything about it?
Or, if you can think clear of the Oreo-induced haze for just a moment, can you remember why you’re doing this in the first place?
I’ll be the one to ask: why are you here?
What’s driving you to keep going, to succeed?
That’s the thing you need to know, because the thing about “learning to love your business again” is that you never forgot how in the first place. You just got busy dealing with the other stuff.
You may wonder about the title of this post and why I insist you have to hate your business.
Well, nothing exists in a vacuum and you can’t possibly be in love with everything all the time. And at the end of the day, if you don’t have the passion to hate your business, you’ll never find the passion to love it again.
It’s when you stop caring that you know you’re in trouble.
So here’s to hating your business with all the enthusiasm you can muster. I’ll join you any time for a brownie-eating business-hating bonanza and if nothing else, at least it will be tasty!
How do you deal with a down time? More importantly, tell me why!
P.S. A super special thanks to Evan Austin for creating the illustration at the top of this post. He captured the sentiment perfectly! If you’re looking for a graphic designer or illustrator, give him a shout. You won’t be disappointed!
This post is part of the January 2013 Word Carnival — a monthly group blogging event specifically for small business owners. (It’s the most fun you’ll have all month!) Check out the rest of the fabulous carney work here.